A mountain in the Island of Arran, the summit of which resembles a gigantic
WITH face turned upward to the changeful sky,
I, Fergus, lie, supine in frozen rest;
The maiden morning clouds slip rosily
Unclasped, unclasping, down my granite breast;
The lightning strikes my brow and passes by.
There's nothing new beneath the sun, I wot:
I, 'Fergus' called,--the great pre-Adamite,
Who for my mortal body blindly sought
Rash immortality, and on this height
Stone-bound, forever am and yet am not,--
There's nothing new beneath the sun, I say.
Ye pigmies of a later race, who come
And play out your brief generation's play
Below me, know, I too spent my life's sum,
And revelled through my short tumultuous day.
O, what is man that he should mouth so grand
Through his poor thousand as his seventy years?
Whether as king I ruled a trembling land,
Or swayed by tongue or pen my meaner peers,
Or earth's whole learning once did understand,--
What matter? The star-angels know it all.
They who came sweeping through the silent night
And stood before me, yet did not appal:
Till, fighting 'gainst me in their courses bright,*
Celestial smote terrestrial.--Hence, my fall.
Hence, Heaven cursed me with a granted prayer;
Made my hill-seat eternal: bade me keep
My pageant of majestic lone despair,
While one by one into the infinite deep
Sank kindred, realm, throne, world: yet I lay there.
There still I lie. Where are my glories fled?
My wisdom that I boasted as divine?
My grand primeval women fair, who shed
Their whole life's joy to crown one hour of mine,
And live to curse the love they coveted?
'The stars in their courses fought against Sisera.'
Gone--gone. Uncounted æons have rolled by,
And still my ghost sits by its corpse of stone,
And still the blue smile of the new-formed sky
Finds me unchanged. Slow centuries crawling on
Bring myriads happy death:--I cannot die.
My stone shape mocks the dead man's peaceful face,
And straightened arm that will not labor more;
And yet I yearn for a mean six-foot space
To moulder in, with daisies growing o'er,
Rather than this unearthly resting-place;--
Where pinnacled, my silent effigy
Against the sunset rising clear and cold,
Startles the musing mstranger sailing by,
And calls up thoughts that never can be told,
Of life, and death, and immortality.
While I?--I watch this after world that creeps
Nearer and nearer to the feet of God:
Ay, though it labors, struggles, sins, and weeps,
Yet, love-drawn, follows ever Him who trod
Through dim Gethsemane to Cavalry's steeps.
O glorious shame! O royal servitude!
High lowliness, and ignorance all-wise!
Pure life with death, and death with life imbued;--
My centuried splendors crumble 'neath Thine eyes,
Thou Holy One who died upon the Rood!
Therefore, face upward to the Christian heaven,
I, Fergus, lie: expectant, humble, calm;
Dumb emblem of the faith to me not given;
The clouds drop chrism, the stars their midnight psalm
Chant over one, who passed away unshriven.
'I am the Resurrection and the Life.',
So from yon mountain graveyard cries the dust
Of child to parent, husband unto wife,
Consoling, and believing in the Just:--
Christ lives, though all the universe died in strife.
Therefore my granite lips forever pray,
'O rains, wash out my sin of self abhorred:
O sun, melt thou my heart of stone away,
Out of Thy plenteous mercy save me, Lord.'
And thus I wait till Resurrection-day.